Sale Sharks may be bottom of the Aviva Premiership currently and face the top two clubs, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers, in successive weeks but scrum-half Will Cliff insists it’s not all doom and gloom around the Salford City Stadium.
Sale Sharks have won their last four matches in all competitions, and their last two in the Aviva Premiership – a third this weekend against Quins would be the first time they have achieved a victory hat-trick since September 2011.
The Sharks are still a point adrift at the foot of the table but successive wins against Exeter Chiefs and London Welsh mean they are now within striking distance of the three teams directly above them – London Irish, London Welsh and Worcester Warriors.
And with Quins having a plethora of international names away on Six Nations duty – Cliff is targeting this Friday’s game against the London club as a winnable fixture, especially with the vociferous home support in their camp.
“We’re approaching these big games against Harlequins and Leicester Tigers just as we would any other game,” said Cliff.
“We need to get the basics done and get stuck-in during training with the view to winning those games.
“The fans are massively important. Against London Welsh I don’t think there was one player that didn’t notice the difference the fans make on our side.
“The next game is at home and we always get good home support so we really appreciate that and it helps us to win games.”
Harlequins, who defeated Sale 37-14 back in September at the Stoop, went back to the top of the Aviva Premiership table following their 25-21 victory over Leicester Tigers at the Stoop on Saturday.
Quins have won their last five away games in all competitions since their 18-21 reversal at Bath on November 23 and have also won their last five contests with the Sharks in all competitions.
But despite the two clubs being at opposite ends of the Aviva Premiership table – Quins centre Jordan Turner-Hall has warned his team-mates against complacency in Manchester – especially while the opposition have Danny Cipriani to call upon.
“They are battling for every point, every game is massive for them,” said Turner-Hall. “If you look at their team-sheet they have some outstanding world-class players there, it is only a matter of time before they gel, and they’ve gone in the right direction, so it is really going to be a tough match.
“He (Danny Cipriani) is the most gifted player I have seen, he is starting to get some front foot ball, and he is starting to look quite lively, it is going to be nice to match up against him.
“It is a different type of challenge, we need to be on our metal, we need to prepare this week well, and it’s going to be a great game.
“It is going to be exciting and played at a good tempo, they look to play with width and it is going to be a good one.”
Referee: Martin Fox (85th Premiership game)
Assistant Referees: Robin Goodliffe & Gareth Copsey.